By Alonah Gill
For the last few weeks, the Women’s Leadership and Social Change capstone has been hard at work creating a safe space for the students here at the College.
A couple of weeks ago, the class held an open forum on its Pride Center. The class talked about where the space would be located, who will be able to come to the space and why they are creating it.
About a week after this forum, the classmates were informed that a physical space for their Pride Center would just not be foreseeable for this coming year. The miscommunication between the administration and the members of the capstone left them confused but more determined than ever to manifest their mission.
Although the physical space was taken away, this women’s and gender studies capstone refused to give up.
“As a committee, we tried to hear voices from different on-campus organizations, individual students and faculty in order to make sure our center would be as inclusive as possible,” said senior early childhood education and women’s and gender studies double major Lauren Wescott. “Our class only contains 20 of the many experiences and viewpoints of the campus. We hope that our center has something for everyone.”
Instead of dwelling on the fact that their semester long project was now turned upside down, the students decided to one step up the loss and create a bigger and better solution — a Virtual Pride Center.
For the last two weeks, the students of the capstone have been hard at work looking to the College community for support on their efforts for a physical space. Through petitions, donations and fundraising efforts, the students in this class have shown the College this space isn’t just a class project — it is a campus-wide one. But until this vision comes to fruition, all of the supporters can access the Virtual Pride Center.
This Virtual Pride Center includes links to LGBTQ staff supporters, LGBTQ focused clubs, LGBTQ friendly organizations and resources that will help others get a better understanding of the LGBTQ community.
“We wanted to make a website that’s easy to navigate and contains a wide range of LGBTQ resources that other on-campus organizations may not offer or have on their website,” senior English major and member of the design committee Samantha Pena said. “We also ensured that the website (could) be found by both current and prospective students … We wanted every present and future student who associates with the LGBTQ community to know that … even if it’s a virtual one for now, there is a safe space on campus.”
Despite the many problems that this group has faced while trying to execute its vision, it will be hosting an opening day on Monday, April 28, at 1 p.m. in the Education Building, room 115, where they will be showcasing their Virtual Pride Center.
The initiators of this project — seniors Lauren Wescott, Amanda Castro, Rose Samonsi, Katherine Inoa and Victoria Swift — have stayed on top of every aspect of this project, along with the help from the other members of the capstone.
The vision of just one group has created a domino effect on the rest of the community inside and outside the College’s campus. Already gaining support from local restaurants like Momma Flora’s and schools like Rutgers University, the vision of the Pride Center here at the College can become a reality.